Big Bend–Desert Mountain Vistas

Big Bend National Park

Over four days we took in six different scenic drives within the park. Our routine was simple: 1) Head to the nearest gas station to fill up the van, 2) fill up our coffee mugs and eat a quick taco. 3) stock up on water and snacks, and 4) drive 96 miles from our hotel to park headquarters.

From our hotel in Alpine we went through Marathon. It doesn’t have grocery carts, fresh produce or even a parking lot, but Marathon, Texas, — population 430 — has a Target. Sort of. A small white building surrounded by dead grass between Alpine and Marathon sports the
store’s red bulls-eye logo next to the word “Target.”

One of the scenic drives, Persimmon Gap to Panther Junction, we took every day. 28 miles from park entrance to park headquarters. The Rosillos Mountains rise to the west; to the east the Dead Horse Mountains dominate the skyline.

The Big Bend is located at the northern end of the Chihuahuan desert. Most of the Chihuahuan desert is located in Mexico. Because Big Bend National Park is part of the U.S. National Park System, it represents the largest protected portion of the Chihuahuan desert in the United States.

Plants and Animals

The desert is the largest ecosystem in the park. Because of high daytime temperatures, animals found in the park typically remain underground during the day. We saw many different creatures. Most noteworthy were javelinas, roadrunners, jackrabbits, snakes, millipedes, and mule deer.

The most familiar desert plants in the Chihuahuan desert are lechuguilla, sotol, numerous species of cactus, mesquite, and yuccas.

Highlights included a visit to the Fossil Bone Exhibit where we learned about dinosaur fossils found within the park. Paleontologists have found fossils of bravoceratops, a dinosaur only found in Big Bend.

Lyle Pearce Lovett (born November 1, 1957) is an American country singer-songwriter and actor. Active since 1980, he has recorded thirteen albums and released 25 singles to date.